26 Feb Failure, fear, and “learning to do it anyway”.

I’m the first to acknowledge that fear of failure has cost me dearly in my life so far. I’m getting better at “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”, but I know I could have achieved more great stuff in life had I not been so afraid of not doing things perfectly.

So I can easily feel for so many of my clients, who struggle with the same beast, and make the decision to work in individual therapy or marriage counselling to explore acts of self-sabotage that have fear of failure firmly at their core. It’s seems I’m in good company when it comes to chickening out due to irrational fears of imperfection and failure.

I was struck recently when someone told me how he’s learned to cope with fear of failure:

“I didn’t try so it doesn’t count”, he told me.

I was immediately impressed by the logic of this premise. But I was also aware that it’s an example of rationalisation (otherwise known as a defence mechanism) at it’s best, and I wasn’t going to buy it for a second.

Fortunately, he wasn’t prepared to buy it anymore either. He was ready for change and knew that challenging faulty rationalisations like this one were the key to the enriched (and braver) life he was after.

Our work began with a few generative questions. And if you’re feeling the chains of self-sabotage and fear of failure too, they’re questions that you too, may like to ask yourself:

What messages did I learn from my family of origin about failure?
Has my relationship with failure changed over the years? How?
To what extent do I see failure as an “all or nothing” prospect?
If “failure” were an actual person, what would he/she look like? Sound like? Say to me?
Is there anything I would like to say, or ask, of “failure”?
In what ways would my life be different if my current relationship with “failure” was to change?
What would I stand to loose? To gain?

Fear of failure is pretty common. I envy those for whom it’s not a big deal. But I also know that it’s a habit, and like all habits, it can be changed.

For those of us who want to be braver and less restricted by fears of not doing this or that “right”, it’s questions like the ones above that increase insight and awareness, and start the process of positive change.

Want to learn more about how to create your own positive personal change and growth? Contact Pamela here. Sunshine Holistic Counselling has spent over two decades learning how to help people live healthier and happier lives.